Jensen-Coon: Out-group Groupthink


By Kelcy Jensen-

Groups can form from different people coming together with similar beliefs, activities or from going through difficult things together. Groups are important for our well-being. Every person needs a support circle they can rely on and trust. As social creatures, we, as humans, need to love and be loved. A good social enclosure can allow that need to be met. However, we must remember that everyone has the same needs, and we must accept new members of our group even if for a short time. I think this could create a new, innovative environment with us being both progressive and compassionate.

Differences often set us apart from one another individually and in groups. We often huddle within our own group because it is safe, just as animals do in herds. Humans truly are social creatures. We want to live in pack-like groups. We desire to feel accepted, and usually we try to gain the privilege of leadership. In the past, we learned to do this to protect our “tribe” from predators and disease. Interdependent bonds are strong when built out of necessity. As mentioned in the fourth edition of Social Psychology, we patronize the out-group to boost our own self-esteem.

The in-group consists of a small group with the same identity and an out-group is anyone who does not fall within that small in-group. What if this way of ostracizing anyone outside our familiarity circle could hurt us in the long run? Groupthink occurs when we do not allow out-group people to influence us. In the text Social Psychology it describes this phenomenon as “faulty thinking by highly cohesive groups in which critical scrutiny…is subverted by social pressure.” Having others to point out new ideas ensures crucial mistakes are less likely to happen. This could apply to any personal life situation or career decision.

There have been many times in my life when I have been stuck and an outsider perspective has been useful to see unnoticed aspects of my situation. New ideas bring more clarity. The use of another’s advice can increase relationship bonds as well. People love when you take a suggestion they’ve given, and that can yield positive results. In order to do this, we must sacrifice some pride and take a more humble approach to solving our problems.

“Two heads are better than one,” is a common saying that reminds us that doing things on our own is less productive and efficient than having multiple outlooks. As the famous football coach, Vince Lombardi, believes, “Individual commitment to a group effort–that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” Similarities are what unite people. In an increasingly diverse nation perhaps it is the time to make more of an effort to know more about a person than race, gender and occupation; this way we can uncover more commonalities and find more ways of accepting the out-group into our in-groups to further propel everyone’s well-being.